In Defense Of Morbius (2022)

Honestly, Morbius Doesn’t Suck

When Sony/Columbia/Marvel released Morbius earlier this year, there were a ton of poor reviews about the film. Critics and fans alike bashed the origin story saying that it was just another generic superhero movie. They accused it of everything from having a paper-thin plot and dull characters to bad CGI and direction. Then there were folks like this guy who pulled out every ten dollar word that they could come up with to drive home the point of just how much this film sucked. Memes making fun of the film apparently drove Sony to erroneously re-release the movie because they thought that people enjoyed the movie. Yep, the cool kids pulled a fast one on Sony and the critics proved that they had a superior vocabulary.

Me? I don’t get any of the hate…..none of it.

Was the film really that bad? No, it wasn’t. I’m not saying that it was perfect or worthy of an award, but it wasn’t “lifeless,” “toothless,” “soulless,” “Frankensteined,” or “input generic horror/vampire/Universal Monsters reference here.” It was just okay. It was a standard comic book origin story where we get a little bit of background on the hero and the villain, witness the moment that both are “created,” and then see them square off in a CGI-laden battle to finish the film.

Despite the generic plot, director Daniel Espinosa manages to move it all along at a nice clip that doesn’t get boring. He breezes through Dr. Morbius’ youth, establishes our soon-to-be-bloodsucker as a sympathetic character, and then tosses the villain in at just the right moment to keep the pace on the high end. Jared Leto (Morbius), Adria Arjona (Dr. Bancroft), Jared Harris (Dr. Nicholas), and Tyrese Gibson (Stroud) all give solid performances. Al Madrigal (Rodriguez) injects just a hint of humor into the film. Matt Smith hams it up big time as Milo/Lucien, also injecting a little humor into an otherwise serious film.

The CGI was obvious at many points in the film, but thanks to the primarily dark scenes, it doesn’t stick out as poorly as it does in films like Avengers: Endgame or any recent Marvel offerings. It didn’t bother me when the CGI was noticeable. I especially enjoyed how the CGI was used with Morbius’ movements (streamer-styled trails behind him while he was in motion) and his echolocation power. I also really, really loved the music for the film composed by Jon Ekstrand. It’s some of the best music for a Marvel property that I’ve heard in a long time.

As I already mentioned, the film is pretty generic for a superhero movie and this definitely hurts it overall. Milo is something of a thin villain and his final battle with Morbius ends on a soft note, but he provides our hero with the catalyst he needs to become the “good guy” despite being a bloodthirsty monster. There are a few misfires plotwise such as the fact that Dr. Morbius has lunch in public and freely walks around the city despite having his face plastered all over the news as being wanted for murder. There are also plenty of throw away characters in the film who are used for nothing more than to build a body count. I also wish that the film went for an “R” rating instead of “PG-13,” as there was almost no blood or gore in the film.

Morbius isn’t perfect. It isn’t terrible, either. If that means I’m not one of the cool kids because I won’t bash the film then I guess I’m not one of the cool kids. That’s okay, I’ve never been one of the cool kids to begin with, so I’m pretty sure that I’ll survive just fine. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say that I enjoyed this film more than Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. It had more genuine horror elements in it that weren’t forced and a more believable villain. It also had a much needed serious tone, which is something that has been missing from the MCU for far too long. Also, the supposedly confusing mid-credits scenes weren’t that bad. All they do is establish the fact that the multiverse exists in Morbius’ world and he may or may not get to team up with one of the MCU’s best villains in Vulture. If you’re confused by that, you’ve got a long and difficult journey in front of you with the MCU.

To drive home the point that Morbius isn’t as bad as the naysayers want you to believe, it’s currently the number one film on Netflix. Why? Perhaps morbid curiosity is driving streamers to watch the film? Maybe they wanted to see the film in theaters but decided against it due to the poor reviews? COVID-19 might have kept many would-be filmgoers from checking it out at the cinema because they deemed the film unworthy of potential exposure to the virus? No matter the reason, Morbius is finally finding an audience, and I hope to see him back on the big screen in another film either as a villain or a hero.

Thanks for reading my post. I’m sure that there are plenty of you that disagree with me on this film, so let me have it in the comments section. See you again real soon!

They/Them (2022)

Respect, Renew, Rejoice….

As soon as I saw the trailer for Blumhouse’s They/Them (pronounced They Slash Them), I knew that it wouldn’t be just another run of the mill slasher film. Yes, it has a cast filled primarily with LGBTQIA+ actors and takes place at a gay conversion therapy camp, which automatically makes it unique as a horror film, but that’s not what I believed would set it apart. I thought that it might utilize the horrors of conversion therapy as the catalyst for the horror and ultimately attempt to teach us about the evils of conversion therapy, discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people, or something along those lines. Instead, the film is more of a “hunter becomes the hunted” type horror thriller that, well, lacks thrills.

Spoiler-free review ahead!

The film follows a small group of LGBTQIA+ campers as they spend time at Camp Whistler, a conversion camp headed up by Owen Whistler (Kevin Bacon), his wife, Cora (Carrie Preston), who is the camp therapist, two activities directors, Zane and Sarah (Boone Platt and Hayley Griffith), and the brand new camp nurse, Molly (Anna Chlumsky). Initially, Owen and his brood of conversion counselors appear to be friendly and accepting of the campers. As the week progresses, however, the facade begins to chip away to reveal a sinister group of people intent on scaring the gay away from the campers.

While that might be scary in and of itself, the real horror comes in the form of a slasher that begins to take out individuals. Without giving too much away, the killer targets specific people to eliminate, and the film goes from being a potentially excellent reflection of the horrors of conversion therapy and the struggles of LGBTQIA+ in the world to a generic slasher film with an underwhelming and predictable conclusion.

I picked out the villain almost immediately. Certain characters were alluded to as the potential killer, but they were so forced that I was drawn to another character who, not surprisingly, was also blatantly obvious as the killer. The whole film has a forced tone to its horror, and the movie suffers as a result.

Don’t get me wrong. There were some amazing performances in this film. Monique Kim stood out from the pack as Veronica, the cooler-than-cool kid who eventually reveals their heart in the movie. Quei Tann, who portrayed Alexandra in the film, also gave a stirring performance. The rest of the young cast, especially Darwin del Fabro and Austin Crute, also gave great performances. Sadly, Theo Germaine, who played Jordan and was the focus of the film, delivered one of the weaker performances of the young cast members. Of the veteran actors in this film, Kevin Bacon pretty much phoned in his performance and Anna Chlumsky wasn’t given much to work with overall. Carrie Preston was sinister as the camp therapist and I wish that we would have had more of her on the screen.

This film wasn’t an entire bust. The performances of the young cast carried it enough that it held my interest. There’s a brilliant twist featuring one of the campers as well. As for the slasher, the mask was amazing and there’s definitely potential for a sequel. I just hope that if there is another They/Them film, it will either fully embrace the slasher angle or pursue exposing the evils of discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people. It’s worth a watch if you have Peacock, but it’s not a must-see film.

Thanks for checking out my review. I have a few more reviews up my sleeve that will be coming soon and next week I’ll be post my next entry in The Year of KISS. See you soon!

Houston Horror Film Festival 2022!

July 22-24, Houston, TX

I ventured a few hours into the Lone Star State on Saturday, July 23rd, to attend the Houston Horror Film Festival for the first time. Thankfully it took place at the Westchase Marriott, a hotel that I attended another event in a few years ago. That came in handy, as I was already familiar with the layout of the property. Once I arrived I headed to the back of a very long (but swiftly moving) line to pick up my wristband.

The event was well attended despite a number of late and popular cancellations. Rachel True (The Craft), Tiffany Shepis (Abominable), and William Forsythe (The Devil’s Rejects) were just a few of the celebrities that cancelled their appearances. Thankfully the festival managed to snag some amazing replacements including William Ragsdale (Fright Night, Herman’s Head) and Amanda Bearse (Fright Night, Married….With Children) that helped soften the blow of missing out on those that cancelled.

There were two vendor areas, both of which also included celebrity guest areas. Vendor Room One featured a number of great guests, artists, and vendors. It was also the hottest room in the building. The second vendor room was much nicer. It was larger, well cooled, more open for walking, and divided into two areas. One part of the area featured greenish lighting that gave a pretty cool effect to photos. It was in this area where I got to meet both William Ragsdale and Amanda Bearse. Both of them were amazing but Amanda Bearse went above and beyond with her kindness. “Marcy loves you, too!” was the last thing she said to me as I left her table, autograph and selfie in tow. She was so lively and fun. If you get the opportunity to meet her I highly recommend it. William Ragsdale was laid back and very nice as well. I also recommend meeting him if you have the chance.

The vendor area was loaded with items featuring all of the major properties including Friday The 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream, Halloween, and Saw. There were also quite a few vendors selling KISS related items. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a lot of Universal Monsters items with the exception of just a few vendors. One vendor in particular had a lot of Universal Monsters items and I managed to snag two beautiful ornaments that i mistook for busts. I am now the proud owner of an Invisible Man ornament and a Wolf Man ornament.

Due to the limited amount of time that I had I was unable to meet some of the other guests but I did get to enjoy Purgatory Park’s Stranger Things display and I also saw a ton of cool cosplays. The entire event was set up well and ran smoothly. I plan on attending again next year with the intention of staying at the host hotel for the entire event.

I really did have a great time at this festival. They’ve already started teasing upcoming pop up markets and next year’s event. Thanks for checking out my review. Hopefully I’ll see some of you at the Houston Horror Film Festival next year!

Throwback Thursday: Riding The Bullet (2004)

“The Bullet is constant.”

Released in 2004, Stephen King’s Riding The Bullet is a generic thriller that tries desperately to be more than it is. The film has flashes of brilliance that are spread too far apart by long sequences of awkward interactions, failed attempts at art house-styled scenes, and mundane moments. It was directed and adapted by Mick Garris and starred Jonathan Jackson, David Arquette, Barbara Hershey, Matt Frewer, Erika Christensen, and Nicky Katt.

In the film, Jackson portays Alan Parker, an art student who gets into an argument with his girlfriend, tries to commit suicide, and then ends up hitchhiking home to see his dying mother. While hitchhiking, Alan meets a number of unique characters, may or may not have a few hallucinations, gets chased by murderous rednecks, and eventually rides shotgun with a phantom who gives him a choice: your life or your mother’s life.

Garris was already familiar with adapting and directing King’s work for both the big and small screen. He directed the 1992 film adaptation of King’s Sleepwalkers and also directed and/or wrote/produced a number of television shows and mini-series based on King’s work including The Stand (1994), Quicksilver Highway (1997) and The Shining (1997). He also worked on shows like Amazing Stories (1985) and She-Wolf Of London (1990), so his bizarre direction of Bullet has me a bit perplexed.

The film just can’t seem to find its rhythm. It throws in bizarre sequences where Alan has a conversation with his conscious, a literal second Alan that pops up throughout the film, that become increasingly more annoying with each interaction. It has a lot of misplaced or just plain dumb jump scares as well.

The film’s acting is pretty bad as well. Jackson isn’t a bad actor. He just cannot carry this film for some reason. Matt Frewer’s brief appearance feels forced and is poorly executed. Erika Christensen never really gets to show off her acting chops. Cliff Robertson’s role as an extremely creepy, elderly fellow that picks up Alan is awkward. Perhaps confusing everyone with bizarre characters was Garris’ intention. If so, he nailed it. If he was doing anything else, he failed miserably.

Not all of the performances were bad. Nicky Katt shines as a draft dodger who picks up Alan on his way to see his mother. Barbara Hershey is also quite excellent as Alan’s mother. The real star here is David Arquette, who plays against type as George Staub, a fifties-styled greaser who gives Alan the last ride to the hospital. The kicker? Staub is dead and is in town to take a soul with him to the afterlife. He uses fear, humor, and rage to manipulate Alan and he does a fine job of it in this film.

It’s a shame that this film is such a dud. It has a solid cast, an experienced director, and source material from one of horror’s living legends. It ultimately doesn’t translate well to the screen, however, and makes this one of my least favorite Stephen King adaptations.

Did you enjoy Riding The Bullet? let me know in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading.

Throwback Thursday: The Mist (2007)

“There’s something in the mist….”

Frank Darabont adapts a Stephen King story for the fourth time with 2007’s The Mist. Darabont already did The Woman In The Room, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile, but this was the first time that Darabont tackled a full blown tale of terror from King. With amazing performances from the likes of Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher, Marcia Gay Harden, and Toby Jones, it’s no wonder that this film is so amazing. Top it all off with four future members of the cast of The Walking Dead and that show’s make-up supervisor, and you’ve got the perfect storm for a great film.

In the film, a powerful storm blows through a small town in Maine. David and Stephanie Drayton and their son, Billy, assess the damage to their home and David and Billy head into town for supplies. Along for the ride is their occasional neighbor, Brent, an attorney who has had a number of run-ins with David in the past. While all of this is happening, a mysterious and thick mist rolls across the small town and the surrounding areas. While in the grocery store, David, Billy, and Brent become trapped inside the building after the mist covers everything and everyone. Alarms sound, screams and roars are heard, and a small group of store employees and patrons hunker down to battle an unseen enemy. As the day grows long, factions begin to form throughout the group. Brent heads up one of these factions, the “Outsiders,” made up of vacationers and visitors from out of town. Mrs. Carmody, a local religious fanatic, begins to make proclamations and prophecies about what is happening and quickly forms another, more bloodthirsty group. A third group headed up by David also forms. It features level-headed members of the local community and a few of the store employees. Brent’s group heads out into the fog, hoping to find help. Carmody’s group seeks out sacrifices to the beasts and turns on David’s group. David and his faction make a desperate attempt at escape. Who lives? Who dies? Who are what are the real monsters in The Mist? Watch it to find out what happens!

Darabont does an amazing job of showing us just how quickly humanity can spiral out of control. The people in the store initially help one another fight off the beasts that attempt to kill them but quickly turn on one another. All of this is delivered in a chaotic fashion that only adds to the suspense and terror of the film. The CGI creatures look pretty good, but Nicotero’s practical effects really shine in this film. Thankfully the mist manages to hide many of the shortcomings of the CGI.

The cast is amazing. Everyone delivers an amazing performance. Thomas Jane carries the film as David, but he gets a ton of support from Andre Braugher, Sam Witwer, Alexa Davalos, Toby Jones, Frances Sternhagen, and many others. Marcia Gay Harden steals every scene that she appears in as her character, Mrs. Carmody, embraces her divine destiny as the leader of religious zealots. Rounding out the brilliant cast are four future castmates from The Walking Dead. Laurie Holden and Jeffrey DeMunn have prominent roles in the film and it also features Juan Gabriel Pareja and Melissa McBride in small roles. McBride is of special note, as her character is only on the screen for a few minutes but they are very powerful minutes.

This film’s ending is brutal. I won’t spoil it here, but do know that if you’ve read Stephen King’s novella, Darabont took some major liberties with the film adaptation. In fact, King loves the ending that Darabont used in the film. The first time I saw it, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s simply wonderful.

The Mist (2007) Directed by Frank Darabont Shown from left: Laurie Holden, Thomas Jane and Nathan Gamble

This is definitely one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations. The story is interesting, paced extremely well, and shows us all that the worst monsters in the world are actually folks that look just like you and me. Be sure to check out the madness that is The Mist.

Thanks for checking out my review! See you again soon!

Throwback Thursday: The Blood Suckers (1967)

“In spite of this dreadful accident, I welcome you to my villa.”

Whether you call it La Isla De La Muerte, Maneater Of Hydra, Le Baron Vampire, or Island Of The Doomed, 1967’s The Blood Suckers is quite the messy flick. It’s plot centers around a mad scientist, Baron von Weser (Cameron Mitchell), and his passion for plant life…..and not humanity. In the film, the baron welcomes a small group of tourists to his secluded island villa where he shows them various types of plants that he either transplanted to the island or concocted in his own laboratory. The tourists begin to die off one by one due to an apparent “blood disease” that seems to be running rampant on the small island. Soon enough, survivors start to wonder if one of them is a murderer or even a vampire. Who lives? Who dies? Whodunnit? Sit through The Blood Suckers to find out!

The film was directed by Mel Welles who, ironically, portrayed Gravis Mushnick in 1960’s The Little Shop Of Horrors, another film about a carnivorous plant. To be completely honest, that film is exactly what came to mind when I started watching The Blood Suckers. Also credited as directing the film (at least on IMDb.com) was Ernst Ritter von Theumer who, along with Welles and Stephen Schmidt, is credited as writing the film. Welles’ direction was okay, but the editing was atrocious. Many scenes abruptly ended and went right into another scene set somewhere else on the island.

The acting was also off kilter. Star Cameron Mitchell did a decent job as the wicked baron and I really liked the performances of George Martin as David, Elisa Montes as Beth, and Hermann Nehlsen as Professor Demerist, but the other players in the film seemed to be either poorly directed, poorly written, or just underwhelming. Matilde Munoz Sampedro was annoying as Myrtle, a lady hellbent on taking photographs of everything. Rolf von Nauckhoff and Kai Fischer were totally bipolar as the married Robinson couple who would fight with one another and then speak sweet nothings to each other with the flip of a switch.

The film did manage to find itself on Elvira’s Movie Macabre, so that should tell you how excellent this film is, but I must say that the special effects and gore were top notch for such a low budget production. It ultimately falls flat, though, and while I won’t tell you to watch this film, I won’t stop you from viewing it. There is something oddly appealing about it that I just can’t put a finger upon, but it’s definitely not a must-see film.

Thanks for taking a look back at The Blood Suckers with me. It is available on a number of free streaming services and has been released on numerous home video platforms over the years. My suggestion to you is that if you’re going to watch it, check it out on a free streamer first.

Throwback Thursday: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

“Eight More Days ‘Til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween….”

Still not interested in writing or directing a Halloween (1978) sequel and hoping to spinoff an anthology series of Halloween themed films, John Carpenter and Debra Hill decided to throw out Michael Myers and Laurie Strode and take their film series in a totally different direction. The result was 1982’s Halloween III: Season Of The Witch starring Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, and Dan O’Herlihy. The film was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, Carpenter’s first choice to direct Halloween II (eventually directed by Rick Rosenthal) and his editor and production designer on the first Halloween film. It was the first and only film in the series that did not feature Myers as the focal point of the story.

In the film, an exceptionally annoying commercial featuring Halloween masks produced by the Silver Shamrock Novelty Company is played over and over promoting the masks and a special surprise on Halloween night. A delirious shopkeeper, clutching one of the masks and screaming about how “They will kill us all,” ends up in the hospital where Dr. Daniel Challis works. He is then murdered by a mysterious man who sets himself on fire in a car outside of the hospital after committing the crime. Dr. Challis and the shopkeeper’s daughter, Ellie, head out to Santa Mira, CA, home of Silver Shamrock Novelty, to find out what’s really going on with the masks.

After arriving in the small town, Ellie and Dr. Challis discover a number of odd things about the Silver Shamrock Company, it’s owner, Conal Cochran, and his employees. They also develop a May/December relationship with one another. As they dig deeper into the mysterious company, they uncover a devious plot by Cochran to kill anyone wearing one of the masks on Halloween night. The deaths trigger snakes, spiders, and other creepy crawlies to come out of the destroyed heads of the victims wearing a mask. Dr. Challis and Ellie decide that they are the only ones who can stop Cochran. Are they successful? You’ll have to watch Halloween III: Season of the Witch to find out!

This film was considered a failure upon its initial release and I can absolutely understand why it was seen that way. The film has zero connections with the stories of the other films in the franchise except for the fact that we see a commercial for the original Halloween film on televisions in the background. I’m positive that audiences went into the theater hoping for Michael Myers to pop up at some point in the film and stab someone but that never happens. There are two connections to previous films, however, with Jamie Lee Curtis providing an uncredited performance as the voice on the town curfew system and as the voice on a phone recording and Dick Warlock portraying one of the android killers in the film. He portrayed Michael Myers in the second Halloween film.

The story is a mishmash of science fiction and horror and simply feels out of place. Had it been released under a different title it might have fared better because it isn’t a terrible film. It’s just nothing special. The cast is pretty solid, especially O’Herlihy as Cochran and Nelkin as Ellie. I have to admit that the romantic moment shared by her and and Tom Atkins (who is twenty-four years older than her) was a bit creepy, unbelievable, and probably tossed in only for some brief nudity but, hey, I guess that it could happen. The special effects are dumb, even for a film made in 1982. The music was okay but nothing compared to the iconic music from the original Halloween film. I will admit that the film’s poster is one of the coolest ones that I’ve ever seen. It’s so much better than the film itself. I also enjoyed the way that the film ended. I won’t give that away here, but it’s an excellent way to finish the flick.

Ultimately this film feels like a Made-For-TV movie that was tagged with the recognizable Halloween franchise in order to trick a few folks into buying tickets. It didn’t work. The plan to continue the series with Halloween themed tales died when Halloween IV: The Return Of Michael Myers brought back everyone’s favorite slasher and righted the ship.

Season Of The Witch is my least favorite Halloween film and I say that knowing full well that there is a Halloween film out there that stars Busta Rhymes as a kung-fu fighting web series guy (Halloween: Resurrection). While many of the other sequels in the franchise were subpar, Witch went completely off the rails in my opinion.

Do I recommend it? No, I don’t. If you’re intent on seeing every film in the franchise then, yeah, check it out. But don’t come crying to me when you realize that this film is a dud. You’ve been warned!

All joking aside, I appreciate you reading my post. I’ll have more horror film reviews coming up in the near future. See you again real soon!

Firestarter (2022)

A slow burner that ultimately flames out

Heads up, folks. I’m going to be making a lot of bad fire related puns in this review but I won’t spoil the film.

Yesterday I visited the original Firestarter film from 1984. You can check out my thoughts on that film if you’d like in this post. Put briefly, I enjoyed the film but wasn’t really impressed by it in any way shape or form. I watched it in order to prepare myself for the 2022 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel from 1980. After watching the 2022 version, I’m left with many of the same feelings for it that I had with the original.

In 2022’s Firestarter, Zac Efron takes on the role of Andy McGee and Ryan Kiera Armstrong portrays his daughter, Charlie. Both of them have amazing powers. Andy can “push” people mentally to make them believe and/or do whatever he wishes. Charlie has the power of pyrokinesis. She can set things on fire with her mind. She also has a combination of her father and mother’s abilities. Sydney Lemmon plays Charlie’s mom, Vicky McGee, who can move things with her mind, communicate telepathically, and has premonition abilities as well.

Andy and Vicky have been successfully hiding from “The Shop,” a government agency that ran tests on the couple as college students that resulted in them gaining their powers, for over a decade. When Charlie was born, agents for The Shop attempted to kidnap her so that she could be studied and, ultimately, weaponized. The McGees managed to get away and have been on the run ever since that time. As Charlie has grown older, her powers have increased and she finds it harder to control or suppress them. When she has an explosive accident at school, The Shop goes back on the hunt by bringing in an assassin named John Rainbird to eliminate the McGee adults and collect Charlie for the agency.

The original film focused primarily on the hunt for Charlie and Andy. It dismissed the character of Vicky early in the movie. Firestarter 2022 takes about an hour to establish the McGee family situation and to build up Andy, Vicky, and Charlie as characters. It’s a slow burner that simmers throughout the first hour and then heats up quickly once John Rainbird catches up to Andy and Charlie. Rainbird is a strange anomaly in this film, as his character arc takes a unique turn compared to what he did in both the original film and the novel. I won’t spoil what happens, but I didn’t really care for what his character ends up doing in the film. It’s kind of aggravating for me because I really like how sinister and cold Rainbird is for almost all of the movie.

The original film felt more like a science fiction adventure than a horror film in my opinion. The 2022 film turns up the heat on the horror. Charlie seems to enjoy burning things at times, even prior to the film’s climax. She also throws in a few line of dialogue that let you know that she’s not necessarily a fan of her daddy at times. She’s calculating and downright wicked at times as well. This makes her seem like much more of a threat than innocent little Drew Barrymore came across in the original film.

The film isn’t terrible, but it’s nothing special either. For a film about a kid that can make fire with her mind, the cinematography is decidedly dull and dark. Many scenes were extremely dark, possibly to hide any shortcomings of the CGI used in the film even though I thought that the CGI was done extremely well. Also, I’m okay with director Keith Thomas focusing on the family unit for the first hour of the film but I really wish that he hadn’t rushed the final half hour in order to end it all with a long and laborious climax. I wanted more of the chase, more development of Rainbird and blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Dr. Wanless (Kurtwood Smith). Captain Hollister (Gloria Reuben) talked a good game but she wasn’t in the film long enough for me to care about her. The whole film just feels to rushed and too slow all at once. I willsay that the film’s score, done by legendary horror icon John Carpenter, his son, Cody, and Daniel Davies, is excellent. l might try to pick up a copy of it for myself.

As far as the cast is concerned, it’s a complete 180 from the original film. Where the first film had a nice litany of great actors, the acting overall was subpar. The 2022 film has lesser known actors in most of the roles but all of them turn in stellar performances. As already mentioned, Armstrong walks a fine line between innocent and sinister as Charlie. Michael Greyeyes, the first actual Indigenous actor to portray Rainbird, who is Cherokee in the book, knocks it out of the park. His performance was great, Kurtwood Smith wasn’t in the film long enough to do much and Gloria Reubens was a tad over the top as Captain Hollister. Sydney Lemmon did a great job as Vicky. Zac Efron, the only “major” star in the film, did a great job as Andy, Charlie’s overly cautious father who often finds himself at odds with both Vicky and Charlie. Efron continues to impress me with his versatility as an actor,

So is it worth checking out? If you have the Peacock streaming service, yes, it is. I recommend watching it on the streamer. I don’t know if I would plunk down any hard earned money to see it in a theater, though, as it comes across as more of a well done, nicely budgeted made-for-TV film than a major motion picture. It’s okay, but much like its predecessor, it’s nothing amazing.

Thanks for burning a little of your time with me by reading my post. See you again soon!

We Summon The Darkness (2020)

Be careful what you pray for.

We Summon The Darkness is proof that Alexandra Daddario will star in any film that’s willing to pay her. It premiered in February of 2019 at the Mammoth Mountain Film Festival but didn’t streaming services until April of 2020. It turns the whole Satanic Panic event of the 1980’s on its head, a decent idea for a film, but totally drops the ball.

JUST FYI…..SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The film opens with with three young ladies, Alexis, Bev, and Val, heading to a huge metal concert somewhere in Indiana. They stop at a convenience store where we are introduced to Reverend John Henry Butler, a leading opponent of heavy metal and the supposed leader in the battle against a string of Satanic cult ritual murders happening across the United States, on television. Then the girls hit the road once again. A van passes them and throws a milkshake at their window. When the girls arrive at the concert venue, they discover the van and play a trick on its occupants, a trio of metal heads named Mark, Ivan, and Kovacs. Ultimately the two trios bond and the girls take the boys back to Alexis’ house.

Once they arrive at the house, the girls drug the boys, strip them down to their underwear, and set up a staged Satanic ritual to kill them. Why? Because the girls are actually part of Reverend Butler’s church and they are using the murders to bring more people to Christ in a very twisted way. The only thing wrong with this, besides the murder part, is that Butler is actually utilizing the murders to increase his church’s membership AND bring in the big bucks. When Bev uncovers the truth, she has second thoughts about murdering the boys and tries to help the survivors escape. Alexis, still believing that she’s doing the Lord’s work, then turns on Bev, her stepmother, the cops, and anybody else that gets in her way. Val sides with Alexis and tries to take out Bev and the survivors as well. Then the reverend shows up and all hell breaks loose.

On paper this sounds like a pretty good horror film. In actuality it’s a dull, plodding flick with a weak plot, bad acting, and not one decent character. I couldn’t care less if any of the characters died. The kills were uninspired and despite all of her attempts to completely “crazy” it up, Alexandra Daddario just fell flat.

I figured out the plot in the first few minutes of the film, so the “twist” didn’t come as a surprise. This film was a huge disappointment. Heck, I preferred Daddario’s performances in a couple of her other horror films, Texas Chainsaw and Bereavement, and I didn’t really care for either of those films. The only actors that did decent jobs were Amy Forsyth as Bev and Allison McAtee as Susan, Alexis’ stepmother. Sadly she wasn’t in the film long enough to help it out enough.

Don’t waste your time on this one. A much better heavy metal inspired horror film is Deathgasm (2015), a horror comedy that knows exactly what it is and delivers the goods. That being said, We Summon The Darkness is available on Netflix.

Thanks for checking out my review. I wish that I had better things to say about We Summon The Darkness but I can’t honestly recommend it. I might just have to review Deathgasm in the near future. See you again soon!

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

The Gentrification Of Slasher Films

2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a sequel to the original 1974 Texas Chain Saw Massacre, has quite a few things going for it. It takes a number of Texas stereotypes, social issues, and specific Austin, TX stereotypes and drops them in the middle of Leatherface’s latest killing spree. The funny thing is that these issues and stereotypes are at odds with one another but are forced to join forces to battle the chainsaw wielding wild man.

The film opens with a pair of somewhat arrogant social media influencers, Melody and Dante, on the road with Melody’s sister, Lila, and Dante’s fiance, Ruth. The group is headed for the ghost town of Harlow, where Melody and Dante plan to gentrify the heck out of the deserted locale. Hot on their heels is a bus full of potential investors, all of whom are nothing more than chainsaw fodder for the film. While heading to Harlow, the foursome manage to offend a local named Richter, a big truck drivin’, gun totin’ stereotypical Texas redneck. When they arrive in Harlow, they realize that Richter is the contractor that they hired to spruce up the town a bit ahead of the arrival of the bus of investors. Melody and Dante also discover an elderly woman who is still living in the local orphanage. Dante and Melody confront the woman, telling her that she must leave the property, and the old woman, upset, has a heart attack. She dies on the way to the hospital, setting off a “chain” of revenge killings by Leatherface. Bodies begin to pile up and the influencers are forced to set aside their personal biases and ideals in order to end Leatherface’s terror tour throughout the town.

When she hears that Leatherface has returned, Sally Hardesty, the only survivor from the original film, decides to finish off her adversary and heads for Harlow. She joins up with the remaining survivors in order to kill Leatherface. Her presence in the film feels a tad unnecessary but I’m assuming that it was meant to serve as a direct link to the original film. It also reminds me of every instance where Laurie Strode pops up in the Halloween franchise.

The film is pretty good. If you are familiar at all with the state of Texas, you know that its capital, Austin, is a polar opposite of the rest of the state. It’s a highly liberal city in a primarily conservative state, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre manages to force both of them to work together. It does a great job of showing the best and worst of both stereotypes without becoming political or heavy handed. In fact, there are quite a few humorous moments (possibly unintentional) in the film such as when a self-driving car rolls away while a victim is being massacred and when a young woman decides to use a gun only to find that it’s not loaded.

The film also utilizes contemporary issues such as school shootings, gun control, and gentrification to push its story forward. It manages to do so without getting preachy or even taking a side on any of the issues. It’s one of the best aspects of this film in my opinion.

There’s also plenty of gore. Leatherface uses hammers, knives, broken bones, and his token chainsaw to take out his victims. He’s also given a motive for his mutilation. You almost feel sorry for the guy, especially when it comes to one particularly arrogant young lady in the film.

The film’s cast does a great job. Elsie Fisher portrays Lila, the only truly likeable and sympathetic character in the film. Sarah Yarkin plays Lila’s gentrifying and arrogant sister who realizes her and Dante’s mistake and tries to fix things unsuccessfully. Jacob Latimore does a great job as Dante, who comes off more business minded and visionary than Melody. His fiance Ruth is played by Nell Hudson, who has a small role in the film but seems to be a pretty decent character. The film also stars Alice Krige in an almost unrecognizable performance as Mrs. Mc, Leatherface’s elderly caretaker. Jessica Allain stars as Catherine, a banker who brings bodies….um…..investors to the town of Harlow. Leatherface is portrayed by Mark Burnham and Moe Dunford portrays Richter, the Texas-as-Texas-can-be contractor.

Much like the original film, sound plays a massive part in the movie. Colin Stetson does an amazing job using music to build up tension in the film. Director David Blue Garcia keeps things moving at a frenetic pace as one would expect and there’s a lot about this film that reminds me of the original. It isn’t a watered down misfire like Halloween Kills, but I also don’t believe that it will have a lasting impression as the original film did way back in the seventies. It’s available to stream exclusively on Netflix at the moment and I do recommend it. It’s a gory callback to the original with plenty of unlikeable victims that you’ll enjoy watching Leatherface rip to shreds.

Thanks for reading my review. Leatherface isn’t one of my favorite film killers but I really did enjoy this film. Give it a chance and let me know what you think in the comments.